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Gerrard rates himself a 6/10 for England
As Steven Gerrard prepares to win his landmark 100th cap, the England skipper has admitted his international career rates no better than six or seven out of 10.
Gerrard will become only the sixth Three Lion to reach the century, following Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright. The third and fourth names on that list stand out as true icons of the English game and, so often lauded as one of the best of his own generation, it is that standard Gerrard judges himself by.
"If they are a 10 I would rate myself as a six or seven," said Gerrard.
"(Moore and Charlton) will always be heroes of mine and heroes of English football. In football, hero and legend status get given out far too easily. As far as playing for England goes, there are maybe 14 or 15 heroes. The rest haven't really delivered."
There have been some momentous days with England for Gerrard. Scoring in that astonishing 5-1 win over Germany, leading his country into two major tournaments, racing away in triumph following that opening goal of the 2010 World Cup against the United States. Yet it is hard to escape the view that his time has coincided with one of international unfulfillment.
The assessment is not one he disagrees with, particularly when he looks back to the period between his debut in 2000 and Euro 2004. At the time, Sven-Goran Eriksson seemed to have presided over a decent period, reaching three quarter-finals in a row for the first time. Gerrard knows it should have been better.
"I don't really like talking about the 'golden generation' but, front to back, that was a really strong team," he said. "I totally agree that group of players underachieved at big tournaments. It should certainly have got to a semi-final. I know we were unlucky at times in the penalty shoot-outs but that is certainly a regret now."
When Gerrard stood in Kiev's Olympic Stadium less than five months ago, internal questions about whether it was all worthwhile were forgivable. After all, the venue, opposition and team-mates might be different but the outcome was still the same. Beaten, in a quarter-final, on penalties. Again. So, Gerrard thought about whether to carry on.
And when he wondered about the prospect of partnering Jack Wilshere in midfield - as he might well do in the Friends Arena - and precocious talent such as Wilfried Zaha, also in Stockholm but weighing up whether to commit his future to England or the Ivory Coast - the answer was pretty clear.
"When you are my age and have another disappointment with England it (quitting) crosses your mind," he said. "After the Italy disappointment, I had a decision to make. But knowing players like Jack were coming through made me feel it was worth hanging about and carrying on for a couple more years to see if things change."